Self-introduction and projects @ Digital Science Center

Greetings, fellow digital interns.

I am Hao Li from the department of IEOR (SEAS), majoring in operations research. I am keenly interested in data mining and analytics applications. During the summer I interviewed with Columbia Digital Science Center, and finally got this internship!

The main project I am working on is to develop a budget tool for the Science and Engineering Library. The Science and Engineering Library has had issues with maintaining an accurate real-time picture of the current funding availability spending allocations. The tool will help organize and streamline the selecting and fiscal processes.

To further investigate the need, we come up with the functions here:

  • Real time syncing
  • Display our remaining budget / total budget
  • Alerts when budget is nearing limit (say if we have spent 80% of the total budget, an alert will be generated.)

Given the requirements above and the format/template of our data set, I decided to develop the budget tool in VBA, which is user-friendly and easy to sustain. The display window I created includes Total Budget, Expenditure, Remaining, Percentage of spending, Alert, and Date. Also, when the budget is nearing our defined limit x%, a message box will pop out, saying “The budget left is below x% now!!!”. Actually, the logic behind the tool is nothing more than a for-loop (to scan the data set with O(n) time) and if/else statements to help me calculate the numbers I need. Then with the calculated numbers, I designed a window to display/present in a proper way. This experience enabled me to go through the whole process of a product development — understanding stakeholder’s need, mining product’s functions, implementing product, testing product, and keeping improving/maintaining product.


Based on this budget tool, I am also helping the Science and Engineering Library to figure out the budget-allocation trend (say from 2004-2013) and continuous purchasing vendors. I hope these results will help our stakeholders to make better and informed decisions.

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